Graphic images of diseased lungs and other visual warnings on the dangers of smoking don’t violate tobacco companies’ free speech rights, a federal appeals court has ruled, upholding an FDA regulation that would require placement of the new amped-up warnings on all cigarette packs sold in the U.S.
The decision was handed down yesterday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. You can read the full text of the decision here. In upholding the legality of the new warning labels, the court ruled that they “do not impose any restriction on Plaintiffs’ dissemination of speech, nor do they touch upon Plaintiffs’ core speech. Instead, the labels serve as disclaimers to the public regarding the incontestable health consequences of using tobacco.”
Yesterday’s decision upholding the constitutionality of the graphic warnings comes a month after a federal district judge struck down the FDA regulations (we blogged about an earlier preliminary injunction that was granted in that case). It would come as no surprise if the Supreme Court has the final say on the controversial warnings.